The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

23rd December 2020.

Every time I read one of Agatha Christie’s books, I’m impressed by her direct, easy-to-read style that draws you into the heart of the story from the first page. Language and values aside, her writing feels modern, with plenty of dialogue, the minimum amount of description, and succinct characterisation. In short, she transports you into her world with the minimum of effort.

The Moving Finger is no different. It starts with injured pilot Jerry Burton and his sister Joanne moving to the quiet village of Lymstock, where someone’s sending out poison pen letters. It isn’t long before Mrs Symington, wife of the local solicitor, takes her own life after receiving one of the letters.

With a wide cast of suspects, Jerry Burton tries to identify the letter writer. Then Rose, a maid in the Symington household, is brutally murdered, and the whole atmosphere changes as the police investigate.

The story builds slowly, using the different reactions of the recipients of the letters to build suspense and suspicion. Jerry Burton, who narrates the story, is a capable lead who’s soon out of his depth as he struggles to identify the person responsible. When Rose dies, it’s time to call in Jane Marple.

I’m not sure why Agatha Christie waited until the final quarter of the book to bring in Miss Marple, but her impact is immediate. She swings into action to connect all the clues, solve the murders and restore calm and justice to Lymstock in an exciting climax.

With a fine cast of suspects, red herrings, misunderstandings, and the author’s humour and social commentary, this is a classic whodunit that’s as clever as it is baffling and complex. An enjoyable and memorable read, the novel reveals why the author remains so popular.

It’s simply a treat from start to finish.

Description

The placid village of Lymstock seems the perfect place for Jerry Burton to recuperate from his accident under the care of his sister, Joanna. But soon a series of vicious poison-pen letters destroys the village’s quiet charm, eventually causing one recipient to commit suicide. The vicar, the doctor, the servants—all are on the verge of accusing one another when help arrives from an unexpected quarter. The vicar’s house guest happens to be none other than Jane Marple.

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

Blood on the Tyne: Headshots by Colin Garrow

15th November 2020.

Rosie Robson’s second appearance is another exciting adventure as she rushes from danger to danger to pursue the person who killed two models. The singer and part time sleuth is a feisty likeable character, who’s smart, sassy and filled with Geordie nouse and humour. With a little help and support from police detective Vic, she keeps tugging at the thread until it starts to unravel.

The author wraps the adventure in a warm, nostalgic Newcastle in the mid 1950s. From the terraced houses occupied by ship builders to the smoky clubs where Rosie performs, there’s a rich vein of Geordie humour, camaraderie and vivid characters underpinning the story.

There’s also danger and tension around every corner as the bad guys do their best to thwart Rosie efforts to get to the truth. It all leads to an exciting adventure, filled with action, great dialogue and an exciting climax that could leave you breathless, but wanting more.

A fine and worthy follow-up to the first Rosie Robson novel, this has the makings of another fine series from Colin Garrow.

Here’s to the next book in the series.

Description

When someone starts killing fashion models, Rosie Robson finds herself in the firing line.

Newcastle, 1955. When a young model is murdered, the woman’s bereaved family ask singer and amateur sleuth Rosie Robson to investigate. But before she can check out the agency where the woman worked, the killer strikes again. Discovering a telephone number that could lead to the killer, Rosie tries to make contact, unaware that a Gateshead gangster already has her in his sights.

Headshots by Colin Garrow

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

2nd December 2020.

There’s so much to enjoy and admire about Agatha Christie’s writing. It goes without saying that her plots are intricate, complex and beautifully constructed, so much so that techniques she used in the 1930s and 40s are still being used in today’s murder mysteries.

If you accept that attitudes and language were quite different in 1942, you can appreciate her direct style of writing that hasn’t lost any of its appeal over the decades. With minimal description and digression, she delivers the twists and turns of the plot with skill, deftness and confidence, leading the reader astray with red herrings and enough suspects to satisfy the stingiest critic. Add in sharp characterisation, lots of dialogue, and social comment that will raise a few smiles, and this is a superb whodunit that will keep you guessing until the reveal.

Miss Marple isn’t the fluffy character you see in some TV adaptations. She has a backbone of steel, an incisive mind and a sharp tongue. Where the police and the village see scandal when a young woman is found dead in the library of Colonel and Dolly Bantry, Miss Marple sees a puzzle with no obvious explanation.

While the police follow their own investigations, she seizes on the small clues, the little details they don’t fully appreciate, weaving it all together into an excellent and believable climax.

Agatha Christie’s books never fail to entertain me or inspire me as a mystery murder writer.

Highly recommended.

Description

It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing evening dress and heavy make-up, which is now smeared across her cheeks.

But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry?

The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple to solve the mystery… before tongues start to wag.

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Dead of Night by Cheryl Bradshaw

3rd November 2020.

This novella sees Sloane Monroe at odds with boyfriend and new police chief, Cade, as they both investigate the brutal murder of Wren Bancroft’s mother-in-law. Events take a turn for the worse as the investigation tries to establish if she’s the killer.

All of Sloane’s trademark determination and refusal to give in to police pressure are on show, but combined with a little more tolerance than previous outings.

While I prefer the engagement of a full novel, it’s still a class act with a satisfying slice of mystery and intrigue that’s easily devoured in one session. It provides a good introduction to Sloane and the main players, but to get the full benefit, you should start at the beginning of a series.

Description

After her mother-in-law is fatally stabbed, Wren Bancroft is seen fleeing the house with the bloody knife. Is Wren really the killer, or is a dark, scandalous family secret to blame?

Dead of Night is part of the Sloane Monroe mystery series and is book 6.5 in series order. It can be read as a stand-alone.
Dead of Night by Cheryl Bradshaw

Six Feet Under by Colin Garrow

27th October 2020.

This is the fourth outing for part time taxi driver, part time private eye, Terry Bell and his partner Carol. This time they’re drawn to a disused airfield and the clandestine events that have already led to one murder.

Now Terry and Carol are in the firing line, racing from one scrape to the next as they try to stay one step ahead of the bad guys while unravelling the mystery. Relying on friends, a deepening relationship with the local police, and their wits, the wise-cracking duo refuse to give up. With some exquisite banter and sly humour, their scenes together are pure gold.

It’s a quick read, but the quality of the writing and the characters shines through every page in this entertaining and satisfying murder mystery cum thriller.

My favourite line comes from Terry, who in a moment of despair, realises he’s caught between a cop and a hard place. Magic!

If you haven’t read any of the Terry Bell series, then grab the first and treat yourself. You won’t regret it.

Description

A murder victim, a deserted airfield, a sinister project. Can Terry untangle the mystery before someone else dies?

Asked to investigate the death of a building contractor, taxi-driver and amateur sleuth Terry Bell thinks the dead man’s widow may be wasting her money. But when the trail leads to an old airfield and a brace of brutal thugs, he begins to wonder what they’re trying to hide. Tracking down one of the builder’s former workmates, Terry finds him unwilling to answer questions. When the man is beaten up, the canny cabbie gets a visit from his favourite detective inspector. But DI Charis Brown and her latest sidekick seem determined not to get involved. Until the man is attacked again…

Six Feet Under by Colin Garrow

He weaves a mystery that can match any of our best thriller writers

In another wonderful review for No Love Lost, Colin Garrow says

Robert Crouch manages to create a delightfully complex plot with twists and turns galore and more suspects than you can shake a doggy snack at. The plot is his best yet and kept me enthralled from start to finish. With a writing style that includes witty one-liners and precise plotting, he weaves a mystery that can match any of our best thriller writers.

 

 

Such a brilliant series, so well written

In her review of No Love Lost, Lesley from The Bookwormery says

Kent is a marvellously complex, likeable character with an engaging humour and slight eccentricity about him. The plot has twists, turns and some shocks and heartbreaking moments too. It really has it all. Such a brilliant series, so well written it is completely engrossing from start to finish.

No Love Lost Launch

The plot is absolutely fantastic

In her review of No Love Lost, Chelle from Curled Up With A Good Book says,

Each time I read a new Kent Fisher mystery I think it’s my favourite, and then the next one trumps it! I love the series so much, adore Kent (the complex character that he is) and the other characters, love the mystery and intrigue and enjoy the writing style so much.

No Love Lost Launch

An addictive mystery series

Yvonne at Me and My Books believes No Love Lost is part of an addictive mystery series. Brilliant from start to finish.

The author really has woven a wonderful tale of mystery, revenge, deceit and also a tragedy. It was a brilliant book and I think it may be my favourite so far and also the one that shocked me the most with events. It draws things from the past and the present and they have been twisted and turned into such an addictive read.

No Love Lost Launch

A cracking television series

Karen Cole of Hair Past A Freckle believes the Kent Fisher mysteries would make a cracking television series.

The superb characterisation, evocative landscape descriptions and the witty dialogue all perfectly complement the intriguing cases that Kent attempts to solve – and as always, Columbo the Westie steals every scene he is in!

No Love Lost is the most emotionally affecting story so far.

No Love Lost Launch